It is a bad omen for a movie if its poster proudly proclaims, “From the Producers of…” That is code for the producers made so much money on an earlier film that they are going to rip off what they think made them so much money the first time and make another movie out of it. Therefore, Immortals is the direct rip off of 300. Instead of Spartans vs. Persians, there is now King Hyperion and his legions vs. about a hundred Hellenic Greeks and Theseus. The real immortals (Zeus, Athena, etc…) are only a supporting cast in their own titled film.
Theseus (Henry Cavill) is a mama’s boy. He is a peasant, apparently a child of rape, and shunned by the village elite. Consequently, he declines to join the Army and only wishes to stay by his mother’s side and protect her from all evil. He has very good protective skills though as he was trained since he was a boy by a guy known only as Old Man (John Hurt). Every village seems to have one of these guys. Old Man instructed Theseus in the arts of sword, spear, various athletics, philosophy, rhetoric, and any other subject Theseus might need to prove himself later in life.
After his village is brutally attacked, Theseus’s new life post-village youth era can now begin as he has a blood vengeance to settle against the cruel King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke). Hyperion is intimidating with his menacing voice, his unparalleled brutality, and vicious facial scars. Unfortunately, all of that built up fear vanishes the moment he puts on his Donnie Darko bunny helmet for battle. This accessory might be the worst costume device ever provided to a central character since the pink bunny outfit from A Christmas Story. Also on his journey, Theseus acquires a few members who join his gang including the thief Stavros (Stephen Dorff) and a visionary Oracle Phaedra (Frieda Pinto). It appears Dorff has descended again to mass market blockbuster extravaganzas after his turn in last year’s arty Somewhere.
The first two thirds of Immortals are there to set up the final battle which consumes the final third of the film; think The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. The set up and battle here is nowhere near as epic as those in the Rings films, but the (fake) sets here are still quite effective. In particular, the Titans, whom Zeus (Luke Evans) and the other Gods imprisoned eons ago in Mt. Tartarus and who Hyperion is trying to free, are held in a prison I will not soon forget. Not only are they inside a mountain, but they are in a cube carved into a sunken section of rock, chained together in standing lines, and are made to bite down on metal poles. Their circumstances would be hell for 30 seconds, let alone the millennia they have supposedly suffered there.
The director, Tarsem Singh, known for his creative visual style in films such as The Cell and The Fall, uses his style once again to really create some intriguing and fantastic sets. The same cannot be said for the writers. Instead of focusing their attention on plausible and appropriate dialogue, the script authors used their time and effort to dream up creative and gruesome ways for Hyperion to torture, degrade, and dehumanize practically every person he comes into contact with. This helps establish his probable insanity and serial maiming tendencies, but the dialogue throughout the film in a huge thorn in its side. Before setting a monk on fire, Hyperion produces a pithy one-liner such as, “Let me enlighten you.”
Aside from the ominous movie poster, Immortals is saddled with a second omen during its credits. Instead of “Directed by…,” it says “A Film by Tarsem.” This is so pretentious that it is right up there with seeing the words “A Film by McG.” Furthermore, Immortals sets itself up for a sequel. Just in case it makes enough money to satisfy the producers again, an illogical, confusing, and ridiculous add on is attached here which provides an opening for The Immortals 2. It has all the marks of a studio exec reaching down from his office and tasking the writers to throw something onto the end of the story.
See Immortals for its imaginary visuals and absorbing fight scenes. There are new ways to witness spears going through torsos and heads being removed from necks. Do not see Immortals if rote and choppy dialogue stings your ears or you do not feel like contributing your money to guys whose sole purpose is to rip off an earlier success to guarantee them another winning weekend. Also, avoid the Donnie Darko bunny helmet at all costs.